I’ve never met Barbara Quintiliani. My name will mean nothing to her. She’s a soprano from Boston. We share a home town, but I’m a generation older. We may know some people in common, but she doesn’t need to know me. I’d like you to know her.
A conductor friend of mine called me several years ago. “There’s this girl from Boston. A big rich Italianate voice. A Tebaldi type. The real deal!” And sure enough her name began to turn up. There were some nice gigs in the States-Chautauqua, Cincinnati and in Europe. Her performance of Donizetti’s Maria Padilla at Ireland’s Wexford Festival generated a lot of admiring buzz.
One day I realized I hadn’t heard about her in a while. With a voice like that, a voice audiences are salivating for, where is she? Maybe learning her craft in a German opera house, away from the scene? Maybe home with a few kids, who knows?
Well, eventually we all found out. Barbara was diagnosed with MS and then a rare auto immune disorder. The Boston Globe told the story:
Her illnesses sound devastating. Earlier interviews told of a childhood filled with abuse. Alcoholic parents, parents with drug problems, mental illness in the home. Living in chaos. She said, It was music that brought me from darkness into the light.
Her sensational voice and her talent for singing are still there. I would love to see-hear-her go on and on. Let’s by all means admire her courage and that of her husband, Stewart Schroeder (don’t know him either). Don’t waste any pity on Barbara. Buy tickets to her performances. Tell your friends. You gotta hear her. Sick or well, she’s really is the real deal.